How to Store Adhesive Tape

Tape Storage Tips and Tricks | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogWhen it comes to food, refrigeration protects the items from spoilage and “use by” dates help guarantee freshness.  If only all products came with such clear guidelines, right?  

While your metal tools or hammers might be impervious to the elements, building materials like latex paint and adhesive tape can, and will, degrade over time.  Why? Well… it all comes down to how tape is made.

A Closer Look at Adhesive Tapes

Pressure sensitive adhesive tapes are only possible by chemistry, which in and of itself is always vulnerable to physical and environmental stressors.  (We explain more about the chemistry of tape here.) Materials like natural rubber used in the adhesive, or certain resins utilized in pressure-sensitive adhesives, can have their bonds broken by the effects of oxygen, as well as exposure to extreme heat, and from natural and artificial light sources. These reactions organically continue over time which can often cause changes to the tape’s adhesive properties.  

But that’s just one example. Adhesive tape degradation comes down to four simple causes: 

Applied Stress: mechanical, electrical, radiation, or other stresses.
Temperature: the higher the temperature, the more rapid the change.
Environment: can be the gases, liquids or solids that come in contact with the object.

The overall effects of these three types of changes are governed by how long each condition exists. In other words, they are all dependent upon Time, the fourth controlling factor. For tape, aging is particularly impactful as chemical changes gradually occur between the several components of the tape itself.

Makes sense, right?  

While tape manufacturers may add antioxidants in addition to heat and light stabilizers into their various formulas to offset the effects of aging, these do not protect a tape’s reliability indefinitely. Like using sunscreen at the beach, these are temporary measures. Only longer term solutions will deter the rapidly acceleration of the degradation process.

To avoid the natural course of chemistry undermining the integrity of any tape, the first step is to always follow the manufacturer’s suggested storage and use. Proper storage not only extends the shelf life of your tape, but ensures its effectiveness and gives you the best value for your dollar.  

The Best Way to Store Tape

So how can you keep your tape inventory at the same optimal quality as the first day it is delivered to the job site?

  1. First, you should store it somewhere away from the light, particularly windows. Ultraviolet light can even penetrate the packaging with time.
  2. Then, you should store the tape in a cool place; the cooler the better, preferably 60°F/15°C or cooler.
  3. Also, make sure to keep it dry. Even the presence of moisture in the air can contribute to a chemical reaction. Just take it out of storage a day or two before you need it to let it recover to room temperature.
  4. You should also store your tape in such a way that you know when each lot was delivered, so that you can use the oldest tape first.
  5. Find out from your supplier what a safe height would be to stack the cases of tape and the skids on top of one another. Certain tapes can be crushed and badly damaged when the boxes are overloaded. Ideally, the storage should be on racks and take up just one skid.
  6. Besides proper stacking and cool, dark, and dry storage, best practices dictate rotation of stock to yield the best value out of your adhesive tapes.

4 Tips for Storing Tape in Your Truck

While certain jobs call for specific tools, it’s always useful to keep the basics on-hand. Maybe you have a go-to tool kit or maybe you keep your supplies in your truck box. Either way, it’s worth looking into how you store your tape on the go.  

Understand each tape’s properties. Read the manufacturer’s specifications and recommended tips for storing tape. Some tapes are designed to stand up to high heat temperatures. Therefore it’s adhesive will fare better in your truck over a long summer of 90°+ days than standard duct tape will.

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Do not leave your tape near the window where it can soak in UV rays for a prolonged period of time. Ultraviolet light can effect the chemistry of a tape’s adhesive and cause it to become hard and brittle.

Be mindful of temperatures. Try to avoid both extreme heat and cold. High heat can melt a tape’s adhesive and cause it to become a sticky mess. At the other extreme, if left in your truck amid freezing temperatures tape’s adhesive may become too brittle to work. Ideally tape should be stored in a cool, dry location. This isn’t always possible so try to keep tape stored somewhere else other than your truck when outside temperatures get to extremes.  If that is impossible, keep only the amount you will use in a day in the truck and keep restocking as needed.

Have a system for cycling your tape. No matter how well you take care of your tape, you cannot maintain its reliability indefinitely. The best solution is to cycle your tape. Devise a labeling system so that you use the oldest tape first.

If you aren’t sure how old your tape is, test it first.  There’s a great post on the blog about testing tape quickly in the field.   

While tape doesn’t get better with age when left to its own devices, paying attention to the variables that maintain a product’s integrity will ensure it is ready to use when needed.

If you have any questions about aging in adhesive tape, or how to minimize it, please contact the ECHOtape team today. Our team of knowledgeable, friendly experts is ready for any question – not matter how technical – to help you find the tape that’s right for you.

 

Is Pre-Fab the Solution to Post-Disaster Recovery?

Is PreFab The Answer to Hurricane Relief? | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog
AbleNook is a flat-packed, site assembled kit made from aircraft-grade aluminum structural framing that slides/snaps together with SIPs (structural insulated panels) for floors, walls and roof. Is this the answer to hurricane and disaster recovery?  Image via AbleNook.com

It’s been a hot minute since we discussed off-site construction, but Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are putting the “tiny homes” back into the spotlight. And for good reason.

Sure, tiny houses have become trendy in recent years, as people trade in traditional consumer lifestyles for a simpler option — a living space that’s no more than 500 square feet.  But that’s just one sector of the off-site construction trend. There’s modular, and pre-fab, and flat pack homes. All of which have suddenly become more compelling as thousands of friends, neighbors and family members struggle to put their lives back together after this hurricane season.

Are pre-fab tiny homes the answer to temporary house and rebuilding efforts?  We think so.

Consider Florida-based firm AbleNook. Architect and owner Sean Verdecia told forbes.com:  “We’re in a unique position to actually do something to help flood victims.”

He and a former classmate from the University of South Florida came up with an award-winning, all-in-one design for a modular home unlike anything else that exists. Taking into account all of the variables of a disaster relief scenario: a lack of foundation, uneven terrain, and few resources, the two came up with AbleNook, a home that requires no tools and little time to construct. Two people can connect the aircraft grade aluminum panels, creating a hurricane-resistant home in a matter of hours!

“We get six AbleNooks on one truck, whereas FEMA gets one trailer per truck and their structures need level terrain.”

Clearly, AbleNook blends affordable rebuilding efforts with affordable long-term building solutions.  A 36-foot long home with 3 rooms, 10-foot ceilings and a front porch currently costs $45,000 -$55,000.

There’s also Cubicco, a Dutch modular housing company, that has created a reasonably affordable hurricane-proof house that’s starting to pop up in Florida and the Caribbean. Starting at $160,000, it’s not an affordable temporary housing solution, but it does answer the call for sustainable rebuilding efforts. The prefabricated homes made of laminated wood and cork, can be built in under three months, and are designed to combat high-velocity Florida hurricane codes, meaning they can withstand 185 mph winds, have impact-resistant glass and can be elevated off the ground with stilts.  There are also sustainability options, like water reclaiming systems, solar panel compatibility, and slats that allow geothermal heating and cooling. Though Cubicco is focused on larger-scale group developments, we’re hoping the company recognizes the need, and potential profit, for its product post Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Then there’s Cazza’s 3D printing robots. It might sound like science fiction, but the Cazza X1 is a robot designed to build “houses, villas, shelters, warehouses, prefab modules, commercial buildings and freestanding structures” in just 7 days using the layering technique common to 3D printing. Cazza has worked with clients as large as the Dubai Government to create the 3D designs for its robot and ensure the process of design and construction in this new territory is not without guidance, and the approach seems to be working – Cazza recently announced a third office opening in New York City.  You can see more of the Cazza building process here.

AbleNook. Cubicco. Cazza robots. What about temporary housing? Well… would a prefab budget hotel help meet those needs? Perhaps.

Marriott International, the largest hotel company in the world, is betting big on modular construction to drive its growth in North America. The company will sign 50 hotel deals by the end of 2017 that use prefab spaces assembled entirely off site. And we mean entirely: the rooms arrive at the construction site fully constructed including bed, desk and toilet, right down to sheets and pillows in the closet and a high-definition television ready for viewing. Then Marriott’s construction crews simply slot the rooms into place in a hyper-efficient construction model called “stacking.”

While the initiative is meant to drive growth, reduce costs and therefore increase revenue, we can’t help but hope that the company will use their speed, efficiency and influence to improve post-disaster relief efforts.

 

Why Face-to-Face Meetings Still Matter to Us

Behind the Scenes Tradeshow with ECHOTape from ECHOtape on Vimeo.

When Stanley Edelstein started ECHOtape 45 years ago, he did so with the firm belief that authentic relationships with our customers would set us apart.  That core belief still holds true, even in the “tweet me, text me” digital era.  In fact, we would argue that face-to-face interactions are more valuable than ever. Direct human contact fosters trust in a way that emails cannot, often leading to solid, long-term relationships  —the most important factor to growing any business.

Which is why we continue to invest heavily in industry trade shows.  It’s the one place where we can meet lots of customers and prospects, and genuinely spend time  getting to know them, especially in an informal setting.

“It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, we’re all just in the people business. There’s no direct message as powerful as a handshake,” says Director of Marketing Risa Edelstein. “Regardless of how tech-savvy we become, connecting in person is still the most valuable way to learn about our customers and see their tape challenges first hand.”

Last fall, we filmed a little behind the scenes video of our team at Greenbuild. (It’s linked at the top of the post!) We think it gives you a great idea of who we are and why we love tape.

We will be at a number of trade shows in 2018, including the International Builders’ Show in Orlando January 9-11.  Come visit our booth, , and share your biggest business challenge. You never know how tape might be able to help.

Where’s the best place to connect with you this year? Share it with us and we’ll do our best to see you there. 

With A Grateful Heart…

Bring Hope to the Holidays | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog
We’re proud to say we’re helping deliver hope this holiday season!
Each holiday is a time of generosity, compassion, and giving.  And as many of you already know, rather than sending cards or battling hectic shopping malls for gifts, we here at ECHOtape choose a charity that we believe betters the lives of children and families in need.  We’ve been blessed to donate generously to The Special Olympics, The Children’s Wish Foundation, Free the Children,  The One Drop FoundationPlan International’s “Because I Am A Girl” campaign, and last year,  AUTISM SPEAKS.

This year, more so than ever, tragedy has struck so many areas in North America that has left so many people homeless and their belongings devastated.  We have selected the Red Cross to benefit from our donation.

Founded in 1881, the country’s leading emergency relief and preparedness organization offers assistance, training, and preparedness services to hundreds of millions of people each year. And every 8 minutes the Red Cross responds to some emergency, working tirelessly to deliver relief to victims of disasters and  emergencies.  Learn more at redcross.org

May 2018 be a year of successful results for the many existing organizations that work to help those in need. Meanwhile, the team at ECHOtape wishes you a very Happy Holiday Season, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

The Complete Technical Guide for Adhesive Tape

Adhesive Tape 101 | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogThe history of stickiness didn’t actually start with tape. It’s actually credited to the bees. Or rather, woodworkers in ancient Egypt who used glue made from natural, viscous substances like beeswax and resin to hold materials together.  In modern times before tape, glues and epoxies did most of the sticky work. But they had serious drawbacks, especially in household use. Messiness, permanence and drying to a hard finish all made traditional glues less-than-ideal. But it wasn’t until 1925 that tape, as we know it today, was invented. Read more

Health & Wellness in the Workplace — Where Do We Start?

Where to Start with Workplace Wellness | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogAs we begin to look to 2018, I have been thinking a lot about wellness and what it means for me as I age. Not that I’m old, per se, but this year, so many friends and loved ones started battling serious illnesses. Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, the list goes on. While I try and figure out how I stay well and balanced, I think it’s also important to explore the role of the employer plays. How do small businesses, like ECHOtape, help their employees deal with all of this? Is it as simple as a company wellness programs, or do we need to dive deeper?  How do company wellness initiatives translate to remote employees across North America?

I’m sure I’m not the only small business professional mulling this over, so here are some great resources I found online.  I’m still not sure what the answer is for us, but I’d love to hear what you are doing, both personally and professionally.

Fast Company highlights 3 key trends shaping the future of corporate wellness programs:  Data Integration (think FitBit);  Financial Need; and Child and Elder Care Resources.  The concept of adding elder care to our child care programs was of special interest.

From company weight loss challenges to lower health insurance deductibles, FitBit is playing an active role in corporate wellness. In fact, when BP AMERICA issued The Million Step Challenge, nearly 2,000 employees (out of 23,000) surpassed 2 million steps within a year. Employees who reached step goals earned points toward eligibility for a lower-deductible health plan.  I’d be inclined to wear my FitBit more often at work if it translated into lower health insurance costs, or other bonuses. Would you?

Forbes reports that with wellness programs on the rise, creativity and innovation are flourishing. To keep employee wellness initiatives fresh and exciting, the new year calls for more flexibility, greater emphasis on total well-being, healthier work environments and improved technology for work site wellness.

Of course, no matter what program initiatives you choose,  taking them from concept to reality is another issue all together.  This post by Small Business Trends provides a helpful outline, however, this post by INC.com has several helpful small budget ideas that I think small businesses would appreciate.  Start small and optimize as you go!

 

 

Best of the Web in Building & Construction: November

Building Construction Contractor News via ECHOtape

Over turkey and tryptophan naps, we gathered these 5 links worthy of your attention.

  1. Vented crawlspaces: Millions of homes have them, so they must be good, right? Not so much.  If you have a vented crawl space, especially in a humid climate, it most likely has moisture problems. This post looks at common crawlspace issues, and how to correct them using encapsulation.
  2. We talk a lot about building resilience on the blog, a subject that’s obviously moved to the forefront of daily conversation. This article from Building Design and Construction talks about relocation efforts after major disasters, where this has already happened and the hurdles that Homeowners have to deal with.
  3. You are going to have to give up your email address to read this post, but it’s worth it.  “Buildings of the future: It’s Time to Rethink the Bottom Line” was taken from the BE building enclosures online magazine. It addresses the evolution of the construction industry, and how ROI is, or will be, calculated. FYI: There is a downloadable white paper on the subject at the end of the blog.
  4. When construction injuries increased by 18% in 2015 over the course of one year, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio took action.  A new law, Int-1447, requires all NYC construction workers to complete 40 hours of safety training in 2018.   What do you think? Should safety training be required in other places?
  5. How do we in the construction industry balance the challenges of achieving building performance while balancing other variables including budget, project milestones and an extensive project team?  The Living Building Challenge at Georgia Tech  is working to answer that.  According to Joshua Glassman, “”The most exciting challenge has been centered around the Red List items and the Declare Label.”  Read more here.

 

Do Storms Change Building Codes and Practices For the Better?

Building Hurricane Proof Homes | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog
FEMA photograph by John Fleck taken in Mississippi. | Wikimedia Commons

2017 is the first year on record in which three Category 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States. Hurricane Harvey set an all-time record for most rainfall —as much as 55 inches—causing catastrophic flooding.  Hurricane Irma was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever observed and caused the biggest power outage in American history (17 million people without electricity). And just days later, Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico, knocking out power islandwide and creating a humanitarian crisis for 3.4 million U.S. citizens.

To citizens on the ground, the aftermath of a disaster is often focused on “getting back to normal”; returning people, families, citizens, municipalities back to their daily lives. But do cities need to think harder about how to withstand the next one? How do these “100 year storms” change building codes and practices?  And, is it enough?

Yes. And, no.  History offers a positive perspective.

LESSONS FROM ANDREW & KATRINA

In 1992, after Hurricane Andrew destroyed more than 125,000 homes in Florida and left roughly 250,000 people homeless, a major overhaul of the state’s building codes took place. Florida adopted and implemented a statewide building code requiring sturdier construction of windows, roofs, doors, and supporting pillars to withstand hurricane-force winds.

After Hurricane Matthew hit Florida in 2016, Martin County Building Department Director Larry Massing said, “Stricter codes that have been enforced since the early 2000’s and the lack of damage is a testament that we learned lessons from Hurricane Andrew. … It’s made a monstrous difference in the level of damage we’ve experienced.”

Post Hurricane Irma, the Miami Herald reported that in the Keys, “Monroe County’s building standards are among the toughest in the nation and—at least for the newest single-family homes built after 2001—they appear to have been up to the challenge,” the newspaper wrote.  Further in the article, the Florida Engineering Society Executive director Allen Douglas is quoted: “Monroe and Dade County definitely have the strongest building codes in the country when it comes to the wind and water. We’re hopeful, when all the assessments are done, we’re going to find the codes stood the test.”

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi did not have statewide building codes for non- state-owned buildings. Many of the communities in the area had either not adopted up-to-date model building codes that incorporated flood and wind protection or no building codes at all.  Ten years later, what has changed?

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Rate the States report (2015):

  • Alabama: Prior to 2012, Alabama did not enforce a statewide residential building code. In 2012, Alabama adopted a statewide residential building code based on the 2009 International Residential Code. While enforcement is not consistent in all communities, several coastal communities have strong code adoption and enforcement programs.
  • Louisiana: After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana passed a law requiring mandatory adoption and enforcement of building codes. Louisiana now enforces the 2012 IRC. However, they did not adopt the high-wind design or wind-borne debris region maps.
  • Mississippi: After Katrina, Mississippi required flood- and wind-resistant building codes in five coastal counties. In 2014, the state adopted a statewide building code, but allowed communities to opt out.

SUPERSTORM SANDY’S SUPER RESPONSE

After Superstorm Sandy, New York City became one of the first communities in the country to create a comprehensive set of climate resilience design guidelines for major projects in the region. The guidelines define a resilient facility as “one built to withstand or recover quickly from natural hazards,” and they provide options for withstanding climate change-related risks, from more extreme heat to more severe floods.

The Superstorm Sandy response also pioneered an entirely new federal approach to rebuilding: a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition, which allowed states and communities hit by major disasters in 2011, 2012, and 2013 to apply for competitive grants to fund major resilient infrastructure projects. HUD received applications for more than $7 billion in projects as part of the competition.

THE FUTURE IS NOW

The good news is that building codes do seem to be getting better.  The bad news is that it often takes super-sized storms to effect radical change.

As reported by Christopher Flavelle of Bloomberg Politics, “Harvey Could Reshape Where Americans Build Homes,” Hurricane Harvey has ignited a political and building-code firestorm —  whether the U.S. should respond to the growing threat of extreme weather by changing how and, even where, homes are built.

Flavelle notes that Texas, despite being one of the states most vulnerable to storms, has one of the most relaxed approaches to building codes, inspections, and other protections. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety,  it’s one of just four states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts with no mandatory statewide building codes, and it has no statewide program to license building officials.

Will that change? It remains to be seen. Unfortunately, despite the demonstrated benefits of the codes, Florida enacted a law this year that prevents the state’s building codes from automatically including design updates endorsed by the International Code Council, meaning that important storm-proofing innovations could be left out of future code updates.

What do you think needs to be done? Do cities need to work harder at implementing sustainable building code and practices? 

Rethinking Email

Tips to Manage Email | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogMore than 100 billion e-mails are sent and received each day in the United States. And I’m pretty sure, all of them have landed in my inbox.  Not really, but it feels like it some days. So, recently  I changed the way I manage email in Outlook.

The goal is, or rather was, Inbox Zero.  Something I have yet to achieve.

Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago, but it’s widely misunderstood. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view.

Which isn’t the point, at all.  Here’s what it actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

So what is the best way to manage email today?  Turns out, there are a lot of opinions on the matter.

The Folder Method

In the old days, I used to manually put everything into subject folders, and leave anything that needed following up in my inbox. I easily ended up with 200-300 emails at one time, and as they built up, the pressure to address them mounted. Plus, I could not find anything.

I did recently find out that  you can set up filters that automatically route messages to their folder homes. For example, notifications from Facebook can go straight to a Social Media folder. (Gmail does this automatically, but you can set up a similar system with other e-mail services. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/organize-gmail-inbox-zero).   Once all e-mails of one type, like newsletters, are grouped in their own folder, you can delete them with one click. The number of folders that you work with and how you name them should depend on your needs.

Good in theory, but it just wasn’t working for me. Right now,  I keep everything in my inbox and rely on a good search tool and simply flag my to-dos.  It saves sooo much time, but my tasks are quickly building up.

Fast Company suggests limiting folders to five, and prioritizing by deadline.  I think my to-do approach is similar, but it’s an interesting concept. Have you tried it?

The Apps Method

Of course, there are apps for this, but I personally haven’t tried them. I rely so heavily on finding my emails, that I’m worried an app might accidentally delete something I need. Or do something I can’t undo.  Irrational, probably.   That said, this post by Zapier highlights 15 of the best email apps, and this post by Hubspot highlights 14 others.

I’m intrigued by Newton, which has all the function of Gmail, but with an Alexa skill. Say, “Alexa, ask Newton who just mailed me”, and Alexa can read you the email, archive or snooze it, then move on to the next email in your inbox.  Which could be handy for work commutes!!  Postbox and Spark also seemed to have some robust features that would be worth searching out.  And IFTTT, short for “If This Then That,” is an productivity tool that helps you connect the apps and devices you use every day with “if this, then that” statements — which they call “recipes.” For example, IFTTT can:

TAKE IT ONLINE

But you know what this research really taught me? How very little I know about Outlook, which is the mail program I’ve used for years.  However, thanks to a plethora of updates and new online and mobile interfaces, it’s much more robust than I suspected.

Outlook gives you a productivity heads-up display. Here you’ll find not just your email, but also your calendar, tasks, contacts, notes, and even RSS feeds all in a single interface. You can filter and search through everything together, to find a news update and a related email, then tie them together into a note that you add to next week’s appointment on your calendar. Between the online and app options, I can really customize it to fit my needs. Including a to do list.I am absolutely sure that Inbox by Gmail and Apple Mail have the same capabilities.  We just need to learn to utilize them.

ELIMINATE THE NOISE

Last, but not least, it’s time to eliminate the noise.  Two takeaways from this article by Forbes:

Rule #1, unsubscribe from email newsletters. Go to www.Unroll.me and you can easily unsubscribe from the newsletters you want to trash, and then it will consolidate the newsletters you want to keep into one big daily email.  And, Rule #2, turn off all email notifications.  Notifications interrupt your concentration, your work sprints, and your ability to be present and mindful during meetings and conversations. Whether you have an audible ding, a phone vibration, or a little window that pops up with every new email—turn it off.

What are your favorite email hacks? Tell us about them at Facebook or LinkedIn. 

How to Hire Better With These 3 Questions

How to Hire Better | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog
Tony Robbins, the author of Unshakeable, shares his strategy for evaluating potential employees with INC.com

Hiring is one of the most important and critical tasks for any small business owner.  Roles are generally less defined in a small business and just about every position involves meaningful interaction with customers. After all, your business is only as good as your people.

But how do you know who the good people are? And how do you determine which candidates will perform to your expectations? Anyone can put on a good show for a few hours during an interview. What you want are people who will still be good next year.

For those reasons and more, the questions you need to ask a candidate before hiring them to join your small business are different than the ones you’d need to ask if you were hiring for a large company.  This interview with Tony Robbins really shed some light on the interview process.  Here is his top questions:

1. Can they do this job extremely well? First and foremost, we want to hire someone who can do the job really well.

2. Will they continue to do the job extremely well long term?  What are the person’s goals, and are those goals in alignment with the actual position? We are proud to have built our company on the longevity of our employees, so being committed to the job long term and/or wanting to grow with the company long term are key assets.

3. Is it the right team fit?  The person can be an extraordinary performer, but if they don’t fit with the team, it can cause chaos. Fitting into ECHOtape culture is critical to our overall health.

There’s one more question that we always like to ask:  Why should we hire you?  This question is the perfect way to open things up and allow the person to show you what they bring to the table. Sometimes the most compelling qualities are hidden within the stories we tell.  A good hiring manager can pull those stories out as the conversation progresses and this question helps to accomplish that.  Plus, it’s an opportunity for them to display talents that you might not have thought to ask about during the interview.

What interview questions do you think are crucial during the hiring process? Do you have a unique hiring story to tell? Tell us about it via Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

 

4 Top Tips from #Inbound17

It’s been a month since we returned to our desk from  HubSpot’s annual INBOUND Conference, and we’re still reeling.   Thousands of professionals in content, marketing, graphics and sales gathered in Boston for the annual event, which focuses on education, networking, and recognizing innovation.

Self-described as “an event that celebrates the human, helpful side of business,” INBOUND’s scope has widened far beyond  inbound marketing. Among this year’s keynote speakers were Pixar Animation Studio’s Ed Catmull,  best-selling author Brene Brown, pro-wrestler John Cena, and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

It’s more than a little overwhelming — 273 speakers across four floors and two buildings — but very exciting.

First, it’s important to note that as a company, we’ve been eyeing Hubspot as a marketing platform for a few years.  At ECHOtape, our goal continues to be providing customized and personalized service while building relationships with our customers.  More and more, marketing is aligning with those corporate goals, and tools like Hubspot allow us to connect to customers by leveraging new technologies. It’s a win-win.

So, now that we’re finally ready to join Team Hubspot as a corporate marketing tool, INBOUND was a great way to spend quality time with product engineers and ask lots of questions.  If you are considering it, make a note to attend the conference next year. You won’t be disappointed.

For those of you who weren’t there, or need a refresher, here are 4 key takeaways:

Video. In the digital world, we’re transitioning from static to full motion. This is partially because people don’t want to read about your products or services anymore; they want you to interact with them, to show them how your products work. Consider this compelling stat from one:  People are 144% more likely to buy after watching a video.

Artificial Intelligence. AI is going to be playing a huge role in our daily lives and in marketing, which is a little unnerving. If you want to know more,  this post is a fantastic resource.

Adopting AI technologies and marketing automation tools will alleviate repetitive, mundane tasks and help marketers work more effectively. But that’s not the point. It’s not about “us” –  it’s about better serving our customers and buyers. The key to leveraging these tools is to remember that our customers are human beings. It’s a simple concept that can be easily forgotten when adopting new technology and processes.

Sales Enablement.  There are a lot of marketing tools available right now. 5,000+ to be exact.  Consider this infographic: 

It’s completely overwhelming.  How do you choose? Where to begin??  What’s important to keep in mind is aligning sales and marketing in such a way to meet you end goal. In our case, that’s building customer relationships.   Currently, the big buzz word is Sales Enablement, meaning give your sales team the knowledge, tools and content to deliver a more valuable buyer experience.  You can read more about the idea here.

The Leadership Challenge is an amazing framework for leadership but also for Sales.  There are five practices to the concept, but in her presentation which was based on research she just completed, Deb Calvert pointed out that the most important one for B2B business buyers is Enabling Others to Act, especially in this world of info overload.  We found this to be really practical,  so chances are pretty good that we’ll explore this idea in another blog post later this year.

All told, we’re still unpacking our notes and letting the experience sink in.  However, # INBOUND17 reinforced the idea that by better understanding out customers’ wants and needs, small businesses like ours can use content to build meaningful connections.  In an ever-growing sea of information, your brand perspective, and experience, is the only way to truly stand out.

Best of the Web in Building & Construction: October

Best of the Web Roundup for Construction News | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogIt’s safe to say that September was a brutal month: fires, earthquakes and hurricanes, oh my!  Construction professionals in virtually every discipline are scrambling to meet a crushing load of rebuilding efforts, so we’ve bookmarked 6 links worthy of your attention. When you get a break, that is.

1. Zero-energy Homes. It’s no secret that zero energy ready homes are the future of building. (We discussed the topic here and here).  But this article by Green Building Advisor dives deep into a San Joaquin County Habitat for Humanity project that cost less to build — not to mention less to own — than any of their previous standard energy-efficient Habitat homes. The key? Air sealing. Another topic we love.

2. Like air-sealing guru Terry Nordbye, we also prefer taping over caulking when it comes to air sealing. For obvious reasons. But it’s worth mentioning that taping seams is standard practice in Europe and Canada.  A trend we discussed recently on TAPED, the ECHOtape blog.

3. Metal Building Insulation Trends. Not one, but two great articles by Ceco Building Systems on metal building insulation and energy codes. Part 1 dives into energy codes. Part 2 examines code-compliant, cost-effective metal building design.

4. ERI vs. HERS.  Does the ERI Pathway to energy compliance give builders the freedom to beat HERS code?  Yes, and no. Read more here.  And get the back story, here.

5. Go For Solar.  Beginning September 18, South Miami building code will require solar panel on new residential construction.  According to South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, Ph.D.,  “Solar reduces the cost of home ownership… It makes houses sell faster, it returns more to a builder, it makes local jobs, and most importantly, it reduces carbon emissions today to help our children and grandchildren have a better future tomorrow.”   This is the first solar requirement of it’s kind outside of California, and one that we are paying close attention to. As evidenced in this post.

6. Boom Town.  Last, but not least, some good news from Contractor magazine: construction employment rebounded in August, adding 28,000 net new jobs, and  unemployment fell to 4.7 percent!  Indeed, the U.S. labor market remains strong, as evidenced by enormous numbers of job openings, and construction activity remains robust, especially in certain private segments.